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The explosion in August 1979, would not only personally affect John's family but also would affect his career in the film industry too.  Although John did continue for a short while to produce other films, retirement was inevitable.  In 1979, he was appointed a Fellow of the British Film Institute (BFI) and subsequently was appointed a Trustee of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), an organisation which he did much to fund and develop.  John also became a director of Thames Television from 1975-1993 and its Chairman 1990-1993.  John also served as a Governor of various schools, including Norton Knatchbull School 1947-2000, Wye Agricultural College 1955-2000 and Gordonstoun School 1964-1994.  He was also a Pro-Chancellor of the University of Kent 1993-1999. In the New Year's Honours List of 1993, John, 7th Lord Brabourne was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE).  

The insignia of a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE)

The insignia of a Commander

of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)

A British Academy of Film & Television Arts (BAFTA) award

A British Academy of

Film & Television Arts

(BAFTA) award trophy


Dragon Preparatory School, Oxford

Understandably, John rarely spoke publicly about the bombing, but he and his wife gave a substantial sum of money towards the endowment of a bursary in the name of their son - Nicholas, at the Dragon Preparatory School in Oxford, which has been associated with the Mountbatten/Knatchbull family for 50 years.  Shortly before the launch of a public appeal to raise money for the award, Patricia said - "the past 25 years would have been far more difficult without my husband. In fact it would have been unbearably ghastly.  We have been married a long time, but I dare say that if we had a spare lunch or dinner and had to pick one person, we'd still choose each other."   The Nicholas Knatchbull Travel Fund (previously known as the Nicholas Knatchbull Memorial Fund) was established to offer financial assistance to 'Old Dragons' to enable them to take part in activities and expeditions which encourage initiative and foster understanding between young people both in the United Kingdom and abroad.

During a gala evening for what Thames Television billed as their 501st episode, "This Is Your Life" host Michael Aspel (b.1933) surprised John at London’s Old Brewery, in front of an audience of past 'subjects'.  At this special occasion, Aspel read out a personal message from Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, later King Charles III (1948(2022-    ).  The show was broadcast on 17th October 1990 and was a worthy tribute to John, 7th Lord Brabourne - who by this time was also the Chairman of Thames Television.

John, 7th Lord Brabourne being "surprised" by Michael Aspel for the show "This Is Your Life"

John, 7th Lord Brabourne being 'surprised'

by Michael Aspel for his "This Is Your Life"

Patricia & John, 7th Lord Brabourne during the recording of "This Is Your Life"

Patricia & John, 7th Lord Brabourne

at the recording of his "This Is Your Life"


Newhouse, Mersham, near Ashford, Kent

In April 2002, John and Patricia's second son - The Hon. Michael-John Knatchbull (b.1950) announced the end of 500 years of farming on the family's estate at Mersham-le-Hatch, near Ashford, Kent.  The Knatchbull family have owned the estate since 1486 during the reign of King Henry VII (1457(1485-1509).  He said - "I know it will be a huge shock but it is with deep regret that we have decided the only option is to close down the farm business which includes the two dairy units and the arable enterprise. The sad reality is that redundancies are likely. This has been the most difficult thing I have ever had to do."  Telling their staff that they would retain almost 1,000 acres of woodland, regarded as one of the best game shoots in Kent, and the deer park and land around Mersham-le-Hatch, however John said - "My family has farmed here since 1486 but the business has been going downhill for some time and it was a sad but prudent decision. We are not selling up the estate that is so dear to us all."


Mersham-le-Hatch House, Ashford, Kent

On 22nd September 2005, John, 7th Lord Brabourne died at his family home, Newhouse in Mersham, near Ashford, Kent. His beloved wife (of nearly 60 years) and their six children were present.  His funeral took place on 30th September 2005 at St John the Baptist Church, his local church in Mersham, Kent. A memorial service of thanksgiving at The Royal Military Chapel, often called "The Guards’ Chapel", at Wellington Barracks, London was held on 15th November 2005, and was attended by Queen Elizabeth II (1926(1952-2022) and Prince Philip, 1st Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021) and many other members of the Royal Family. Following John's death, Patricia and John's eldest son - Norton (b.1947), who had been known as Lord Romsey (his mother's courtesy title) since 1979, succeeded as 8th Lord Brabourne.


The Guards' Chapel,

Wellington Barracks, London

John, 7th Lord Brabourne & Patricia, in their garden in Mersham, Kent - taken shortly before his death ​

One of their last photographs together -
John, 7th Lord Brabourne & Patricia,

in their garden at Newhouse


The joint grave of Patricia & John, 7th Lord Brabourne

at St John the Baptist Church, Mersham, near Ashford, Kent


ABOVE: A memorial to John, 7th Lord Brabourne

at St John the Baptist Church, Mersham,

near Ashford, Kent

Throughout his career John consistently championed the need to support new talent entering into the film and television industries, a cause he furthered in his time as a Trustee of the Cinema and Television Benevolent Fund from 1985-1988. The 'John Brabourne Awards' (JBA) was founded as a talent development programme providing financial assistance of between £1000 and £5000 to individuals working behind the scenes in the Film and TV industries.  John and Patricia’s son - The Hon. Michael-John Knatchbull (b.1950) is on the judging committee.

Patricia making a speech establishing The John Brabourne Awards (JBA) ​

Patricia making a speech establishing 

The John Brabourne Awards (JBA)

To visit the The John Brabourne Awards (JBA) website, please click above ​

To visit the John Brabourne Awards (JBA) website,

please click above

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